A 504 Plan Can Change As The School Year Goes On
Another surprising thing I learned: My sons 504 plan isnt set in stone for the year. If something worked in September, but isnt working by November, I learned that I could ask for changes.
For example, my son had a teacher who was a bad fit right out of the gate in seventh grade. After talking to his school counselor and working with the 504 plan team, my son switched into a new class. We also tweaked some of his accommodations.
Im still learning, but its a good feeling to know that we have a 504 plan in place thats helping my son. Now I just need to figure out the difference between a 504 plan and an IEP.
General Differences Between 504 Plans And Ieps
504 Plans are generally best to serve students with less severe needs vs. IEPs, which are not
504 Plans are meant to be provided entirely within the general education classroom vs. IEPs, which are not
At this point, you have a basic understanding of IEPs and 504s and the differing qualification criteria for each. If your child does have, or does seem to have a disorder, AND would benefit from accommodations in the general education classroom, a 504 may be the way to go.
Now, you may be thinking, okay, I think that fits for my child how do I get one? You have come to the right place. In this next section, we will walk through 5 simple steps for obtaining a 504 accommodation plan for your child.
Work Collaboratively To Create A Plan
If itâs determined that your child is eligible for a section 504 plan , then itâs time to work collaboratively to create a 504 plan that works for your child. Think about your childâs needs, and how ADHD affects them throughout the school year. Insist on a customized 504 plan that will address your childâs specific needs.
Some examples of accommodations that can be included in a 504 plan include:
- Extended time for tests
- Pre-approved nurseâs visits when they need to take medication
- Audio-visual materials
- Occupational therapy
Follow up with the evaluation team as well as your childâs teacher to make sure the 504 plan is being followed.
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Expand Her Social Network
If your child is clueless about social cues, doesnt work well with others, or isnt respected by peers:
- Set up social-behavior goals with her and implement a reward program
- Request that the school establish a social skills group
- Encourage cooperative learning tasks
- Assign her special responsibilities or a leadership role
- Compliment positive behavior and work
- Acknowledge appropriate behavior and good work frequently
Section 504 And Idea For Adhd Students
There are actually two federal laws that address the educational needs of students with disabilitiesSection 504 of the Vocational Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act .
Section 504 and IDEA guarantee that students with disabilities have access to a free and appropriate public education that is comparable to the education available to non-disabled students.
The definition of a disability is much broader under Section 504 than under IDEA, so more students tend to be eligible for services under Section 504.
Most students with a 504 Plan are served in the general education classroom. Often these are the students who have milder impairments and do not need the intensity of special education but could benefit from extra supports, accommodations, academic and behavioral adjustments, and modifications in the regular educational curriculum. This includes extended times on tests for students with ADHD.
A 504 Plan also tends to be a much faster, easier procedure for obtaining accommodations and supports since IDEA has stricter eligibility criteria and regulations.
Both laws require the placement of a child with disabilities in the least restrictive environment. IDEA requires an individualized educational plan with educational goals for the student and specifically designed special education, instruction, and related services that the school is responsible for providing in order to help the student reach those goals.
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Can My Child Get The Same Services Under A 504 Plan As An Iep
Yes, a child can receive any services, accommodations, or modifications deemed necessary under Section 504, except for special education.
Both an IEP and a 504 Plan are binding legal documents. That means that once your child has received an IEP or Section 504, the school does not have the right to deny services or accommodations listed in the document. For older children, the IEP must include a transition plan for life after high school.
Teachers, even if they dont agree with an accommodation, must follow the document. Suppose your childs 504 Plan provides for her to receive extra time to take tests, but the teacher doesnt think your child needs this accommodation. If the teacher refuses to provide the extra time, you have the right to file a complaint or ask for a due process hearing .
Consider Adam and Christine, who both live in the same school district. Adam has ADHD and severe dyslexia. His reading is two grade levels below the average. He attends regular education classes at some times during the day, but also attends special education classes to help with his dyslexia and give him extra help in reading. Adam has an IEP.
Both Adam and Christine have ADHD and dyslexia. Adam, however, is two grade levels below in reading, while Christine is reading at grade level. According to the school district, dyslexia does not qualify a student for an IEP unless the child is at least 1.5 grade levels behind. That is why Adam qualified for IDEA, but Christine did not.
Added Support For Students With Adhd
Preferential seating that’s away from distractionsaway from the door, window, pencil sharpener or distracting students, near the teacher, or a quiet place to complete schoolwork or tests can be helpful.
Seating the student by a good role model/classroom “buddy” and appointing “row captains” or “homework buddies” who remind students to write down assignments and who collect work to turn in to the teacher should also be considered.
Students should be offered assistance with note-taking, providing the student with a copy of class notes, peer assistance with note-taking, audio taping of lectures.
For distracted students, one-on-one tutoring and organizational assistance can make a big difference.
It’s important to note that students with ADHD may require extended time for testing, especially those students who tend to retrieve and process information at a slower speed. The use of positive behavior management strategies can help students maintain positive motivation.
Teachers should provide clear and simple directions for homework and class assignments by repeating directions, posting homework assignments on the board, and supplementing verbal instructions with visual/written instructions. An extra set of books for the student to keep at home, along with highlighted textbooks and workbooks will help ADHD students stay on task.
Find Out Who To Contact
The first step youâll want to take is finding out who is responsible for starting the 504 processes at your childâs school.
At some schools, the school psychologist is the person you need to talk to. Other helpful staff members could include the school counselor, your childâs therapist, your childâs teacher, or the school principal. Any of these people are likely to be able to point you in the right direction.
Ask for the correct personâs name and contact information, and get in touch with them as soon as possible. You can also get in touch with your districtâs Director of Special Services.
What Is A 504
A 504 plan is another option for parents to consider. It differs in many ways from an IEP. First, 504 plans are covered by Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, which is a piece of civil rights legislation. These plans serve students who have a diagnosis or impairment that restricts one or more life activities. 504 plans allow these students to receive accommodations that make it easier to access their schools general education curriculum.
The definition of disability is much broader under Section 504 than it is under IDEA. So if your child does not qualify for an IEP, he or she still might qualify for accommodations under a 504 plan. However, parents should be aware that 504s do not cover related services such as physical, speech or occupational therapy.
In short, while both IEPs and 504s help students with special needs to make educational progress, eligibility for each of these plans differs. Services they cover differ as well. Understanding these differences is helpful when parents begin a conversation with their childs school about what type of plan may be best.
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Track Progress Against Goals
After working so hard to apply for and agree on accommodations, you’ll want to make sure they stay on track. Stay involved at school to see how they’re working, communicate often with teachers, and pay extra attention to homework. If you notice your child’s performance slipping, call a meeting to tweak the plan.
Accommodations Available To Qualified Students
These accommodations are often helpful for students with ADHD. Your child’s 504 Plan might include some of these. Depending on a student’s individual needs related services may include speech, occupational therapy, physical therapy, assistive technology, counseling, as well as training in study strategies, organizational skills, and time management.
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Classroom Treatment Strategies For Adhd Students
There are some school-based management strategies shown to be effective for ADHD students: behavioral classroom management and organizational training.1
Parents report that only about 1 in 3 children with ADHD receive behavioral classroom management.2
The behavioral classroom management approach encourages a students positive behaviors in the classroom, through a reward systems or a daily report card, and discourages their negative behaviors. This teacher-led approach has been shown to influence student behavior in a constructive manner, increasing academic engagement. Although tested mostly in elementary schools, behavioral classroom management has been shown to work students of all ages.1
Organizational training teaches children time management, planning skills, and ways to keep school materials organized in order to optimize student learning and reduce distractions. This management strategy has been tested with children and adolescents.1
These two management strategies require trained staffincluding teachers, counselors, or school psychologistsfollow a specific plan to teach and support positive behavior.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that the school environment, program, or placement is a part of any ADHD treatment plan. AAP also recommends teacher-administered behavior therapy as a treatment for school-aged children with ADHD. You can talk to your childs healthcare provider and teachers about working together to support your child.
Common Accommodation For Adhd: Pair Visual And Verbal Information
With this accommodation, students receive the same information presented verbally and visually . While this accommodation is most often provided for individuals with learning disabilities, it can also help individuals with ADHD. Important information can be missed, so it helps to have multiple modes of delivery. Children with ADHD also have difficulty with working memory so verbal instruction may be easily forgotten. Lastly, some kids have great verbal attention skills but struggle to maintain visual attention . An additional support would be to provide verbal directions, have the student repeat the directions, write the instructions on the board and/or have the directions/task written on paper. This is a great accommodation for the classroom as many students rely on different methods to take in information.
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Accommodations To Build Organizational Skills
- Have the student record all assignments in an assignment pad or electronic calendar, and check it daily to ensure accuracy. This is especially important for students that forget homework assignments.
- Provide an extra set of books to keep at home. This is helpful for students that lose or forget books.
- Provide folders and baskets of supplies to keep desks organized.
- Organize subjects on the students desk by color.
- Recommend binders with dividers and folders to keep work organized if students have difficulty keeping track of papers.
- Provide typed notes or an outline of the lesson to help with taking notes.
- Teach strategies for taking notes such as graphic organizers and mind-mapping software.
- Have a peer take notes for the student if the child is unable to take notes effectively.
- Consider allowing the student to have a computer or tablet.
How Long Does It Take
You should hear back from the evaluation team within a reasonable amount of time, typically around 60 to 90 days. Follow up with your childâs school if you havenât heard from them in over 60 days.
Under Section 504, the school must provide you with âdue process,â which includes notifying you of any actions taken and allowing you to appeal.
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Develop An Iep Or 504 Plan
If your child qualifies under IDEA, you should meet with the team to develop an Individualized Education Program , which specifies your childs educational goals and how those goals will be met in the least restrictive environment which generally refers to a regular classroom.
Parents must be assertive. Make sure the IEP spells out exactly how the school will help your child meet his goals, which should be specific, measurable, and achievable.
Include time limits: By month three, James will reduce his interruptions from 10 per day to 2 per day. The IEP should explain exactly how James will be taught to stop interrupting. Unless the strategies are specified, theres no way to enforce them.
If your child qualifies under Section 504, a school representative will help you and your childs teacher compile a 504 Plan, or a written list of accommodations that must be followed at all times. Unlike an IEP, there are no legal requirements about what should be included in a 504 Plan, and the school isnt required to involve the childs parents in the process .
TIP: Learn more about writing and implementing an IEP including required provisions and the evaluation-team composition on the federal Education Departments web site.
You Need To Follow Up On The 504 Plan
When we got our first 504 plan, I assumed someone else would take the lead. But I quickly learned that, as a parent, I need to stay on top of the 504 plan to make sure its followed.
Now, I make it a point to follow up with my sons school every week to make sure my sons needs are met. I email, call, and show up at the school regularly to see how things are going for everyone involved. The school doesnt always know whats going on for my son at home, and I dont always know whats going on at school. So its important to connect regularly.
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Get An Accurate Add Evaluation
Write a letter requesting an evaluation to see if your child with ADHD might benefit from academic accommodations.
Address it to the chairperson of the Committee on Special Education Services aka the Director of Special Education Services.
Should the school decline your request, or if youre dissatisfied with the evaluations findings, arrange for a private ADHD evaluation.
TIP: Send your letter by certified mail or hand-deliver it and keep a dated proof of receipt for your records.
Document The Childs Needs
It is helpful for assessment professionals to have documented evidence of what your child needs to be successful at school. This is especially true if they havenât yet received an ADHD diagnosis.
Your child needs to have a documented disability, such as ADHD, to be eligible for a 504 plan, so any evidence of this will be helpful during the evaluation and decision process.
As soon as you notice that your child is struggling at school, start documenting all of your observations. Consider keeping a daily journal of how your child behaved during each school day along with any teacher or school staff reports.
Keep any paperwork, like returned homework, testing results, or independent evaluations, that could indicate that your child needs additional support at school. If you have documentation from your childâs doctor or therapist about their ADHD diagnosis or other health concerns, keep these in your childâs file as well.
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Special Education Services And Accommodations
Most children with ADHD receive some school services, such as special education services and accommodations. There are two laws that govern special services and accommodations for children with disabilities:
- The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act
- Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973
The support a child with ADHD receives at school will depend on if they meet the eligibility requirements for one of two federal plans funded by IDEA and Section 504: an individualized education program or a 504 Plan.
Request The 504 Evaluation
Once you are ready with documentation, you can reach out to your childs school counselor or school administrator. Request the 504 evaluation. You would want to send an email that says something like, I am requesting a 504 evaluation for my child and describes your concerns. The school staff member will reach back out to you. They will ask you to complete some paperwork such as Consent to Evaluate. You will need to sign that to start the process.
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Common Accommodations For Adhd: Teacher Check
Starting tasks can be really hard for students with ADHD. They might not know where to start or have missed some key directions. Students often wont admit that they dont know what to do or their brain simply wont…go. This can lead to students trying to engage other peers or start moving/fidgeting to avoid the task. A teacher check-in can be just the trick to get the engine started and often ADHD students can take it from there.